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by Abigail Van Buren

Brother Abuses Family Trust by Shorting on Yearly Rent

DEAR ABBY: Twelve years ago, my brother was in a financial bind. He stood to lose his home and possibly his livelihood. He asked my husband and me to buy part of his farmland so that he could use the cash to pay off his debts.

We live on a fixed income, but we had some investments pay out so we had the cash to purchase the land. We agreed to let him continue to farm the land, and he was to pay us one-third of the income as rent. We left all the details to him, as we had no reason to distrust him. However, we recently discovered that he has been receiving a government subsidy that he was supposed to share with us. It is not a great deal of money on a yearly basis, but over the past 12 years it has amounted to a few thousand dollars.

My husband and I are hurt and disappointed over this deception. We don't want to take legal action, nor do we want to embarrass him in any way. We would like to resolve this matter in a tactful way to permit him to save face. We discussed selling the land, but this would probably put him in a financial bind, and we don't want to do that.

My brother has a fairly good life. He owns his home free and clear, has a place at the lake and owns a boat. In other words, he is not destitute.

Have you any suggestions on how to resolve this matter without hard feelings on either side? -- DISAPPOINTED IN ARKANSAS

DEAR DISAPPOINTED: Frankly, I don't. Your kindness and concern have been abused, and you have caught your brother with his hand in the cookie jar. This will continue until you put a stop to it -- and when you do, instead of being angry at himself, he will displace his anger onto you, so be prepared.